Getting on the ship went pretty good. We waited in lines about 45 minutes and found our cabin ready for us when we got there shortly after noon. We met our cabin steward, Alit, who called us by our first names the whole cruise and was always happy to see us when we ran into him. He took top notch care of our cabin and made us a different towel animal every night!
This was our third cruise, our second with NCL. We love Freestyle cruising so we don't have to do formal nights and can eat whenever we want to.
We had a total of 5 days at sea on this 11 night cruise. With all the activities, shows and the casino we kept busy and had a great time on the ship. We made it to most of the shows and enjoyed them all. The evening activities in Dazzles were all entertaining. Our favorite was the Quest on the last night. It is definitely for adults only and we were amazed at what people will do for a point for their team. A lot of laughs and fun! The cruise director Jamie and her staff we all awesome. They put on a show called Fountains -- Don't miss it, it was hilarious!
We decided to try one of the specialty restaurants, East Meets West. The charge for this was $25 per person. The restaurant was nice but not much nicer than the dining rooms that are complimentary. The service was excellent and the food was good but I didn't feel it was worth the extra $50 we had to pay. We also had to leave a tip so it was an expensive night.
The food in the buffet was ok but gets boring. The desserts don't have much taste but the soft serve ice cream in the ice cream shoppe is yummy. We ate several meals in the Seven Seas and Four Seasons restaurants where we found the food and service to be excellent. On days at sea they have a BBQ going poolside in the afternoon. The burgers hot of the grill were much better than what you get in the buffet. We also discovered they have pork chops on the grill. Yummy!!
They have lots of things to make you part with your money -- Deal or No Deal, Bingo, Pull tab strips and the Casino. With all the money they take in at Bingo, I have to say the prize money didn't amount to much. They didn't give away much at Deal or No Deal either.
NCL charges a lot of money to access the internet on the ship. $100 for 200 some minutes. My husband thought his T-Mobile internet would work on his cell phone and tried to log on. He wasn't successful but we were billed about $60 for his attempt. After spending a lot of time tracking down the guy who was supposed to be at the internet desk, he finally found him. He was extremely rude and after much argument, knocked the bill down to $15 "because you tried to log on". :o(
They had an "Everything is $10.00" store that opened up one of the sea days. I didn't think the items looked like they were worth $10 but it was hilarious watching people go crazy over this stuff! If you bought 5 items you got a ticket for a drawing where they were giving away 5 items. Too funny but it was free entertainment!
Cartagena, Columbia - We booked a city tour with Walter Garcia of Guianza Express (firstname.lastname@example.org). We enjoyed our tour guide Gerson who was knowledgeable and we highly recommend him. I think this was my favorite stop of the cruise. Definitely different from other places we've been with the crazy drivers, motorcycle taxis and lack of any traffic control. We enjoyed seeing the old walled city, the fort and the monestary with an awesome view of the city.
Oranjestad, Aruba - We booked a Jeep tour with ABC Tours (email@example.com) who took us to see all the natural bridges, an old fort and the natural pools. The natural pool has awesome snorkeling but you have to climb over slippery rocks to get in. Luckily they informed us to wear sneakers or water shoes as you also have to walk down about 56 "steps" that are a challenge to navigate. The Jeep tour is an adventure as they are taking you to places only a jeep can navigate.
Curacao -- We didn't book a tour at this stop but did get off the ship and went to the Slavery Museum. There are lots of interesting African artifacts to see. We walked around the town a bit but it was so hot we returned to the ship. The buildings and bridges we could see from our balcony were quite beautiful and interesting.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten -- We booked a 4 hour tour with Bernard's Tours (firstname.lastname@example.org) and had a great time. We visited both the Dutch and French sides of the island. We visited the iguana farm, the sea urchin man, Maho Beach (where the planes land & take off), a nice shopping stop in Marigot and lots more.
St. Thomas -- We hadn't booked a tour but got talked into going on a $20 tour once we were off the boat. We saw a lot of the island but our guide didn't speak very good English and kept saying "ok" constantly. We wished we hadn't taken that tour but live and learn!
Tips for first time cruisers -- bring a power cord (only one outlet in the cabin) and a highlighter so you can mark activities you don't want to miss on your Freestyle Daily. No need to bring beach towels as they provide you with nice ones that they let you take off the ship to the beaches. After we pack our luggage we check the weight (to stay under the 50 lbs.) and pack as many cans of pop and fruit drinks as these are expensive on the ship. Don't try and sneak on any liquor though, somehow they know if there is any in your luggage!
The ship offers a service (for a fee) where they will take the luggage you want to check to the airport for you. Wow, this was nice! We didn't have to wait for a disembarking time or wait in line for our luggage.
Overall we had a great time on the Sun!